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PCB/PCBA knowledge
FPC vs PCB – what is the difference

FPC (Flexible Printed Circuit)and PCB (Printed Circuit Board) are two common types of circuit boards, both of which are essential components in electronic equipment. This article will introduce the difference between FPC vs PCB in detail.

Table of Contents

What is FPC?

FPC is a kind of flexible circuit board, which is composed of multi-layer film materials, that can be bent and folded, and is suitable for electronic products that need to be bent. FPC boards generally use metal foil as the conductive layer and are manufactured by chemical etching or laser cutting.

Features of FPC

Bendable: The FPC board can be bent within a certain range, which is suitable for electronic products that need to be bent.

Good electrical conductivity: The FPC board uses metal foil as the conductive layer, which has excellent electrical conductivity.

Lightweight: The FPC board is made of thin film material, and the whole circuit board is very light.

Flexible layout: The FPC board can freely arrange components and wires in three-dimensional space, and the layout is flexible.

Applications of FPC

Mobile phone: It can effectively save the product volume, and easily connect the battery, microphone, and buttons into one.

Computer and LCD screen: Utilizes the integrated circuit configuration and thin thickness of the flexible circuit board to convert digital signals into images and present them through the LCD screen.

CD player: Utilize the three-dimensional space assembly characteristics and thin thickness of the flexible circuit board to turn the huge CD into a good companion.

Disk drive: Whether it is a hard disk or a floppy disk, it is very dependent on the high flexibility of the FPC and the ultra-thin thickness of 0.1mm to complete the fast reading of data, whether it is a PC or a NOTEBOOK.

What is FPC

What is PCB?

PCB is a rigid PCB consisting of one or more conductive and insulating layers, usually made of fiberglass-reinforced materials. PCBs are suitable for electronic products that require high stability and performance. The manufacturing process of PCBs is relatively complex and usually requires multiple processes such as chemical etching, gold plating, drilling, and copper plating.

Features of PCB

Rigidity: The PCB is made of fiberglass-reinforced materials, and the entire circuit board is very rigid.

Good conductivity: PCB uses copper foil as the conductive layer, which has excellent conductivity.

Flexible layout: PCBs can freely arrange components and wires in two-dimensional space, and the layout is flexible.

Wide applications: PCBs are suitable for various electronic products that require high stability and high performance.

Applications of PCB

Electronic devices: PCBs are key components used to build and support electronic devices. It provides a platform for circuit connection, support and protection of electronic components. PCBs are commonly found in a variety of consumer electronics such as computers, smartphones, tablets, televisions, audio equipment, home appliances, and more.

Communication equipment: PCBs play an important role in the field of communication. Wireless communication equipment (such as mobile phone base stations, and satellite communication equipment), network equipment (such as routers, and switches), and various communication modules all use PCBs to achieve circuit connections and signal transmission.

Automotive electronics: Many electronic systems in modern cars use PCBs. Including engine control unit (ECU), car entertainment system, navigation system, electronic stability control system (ESC), etc.

Medical equipment: PCBs are widely used in the medical field, including medical monitoring equipment, medical imaging equipment, surgical equipment and various medical instruments. The PCB plays the role of circuit connection and signal transmission in these devices.

Industrial control systems: PCBs are used in various electronic devices in industrial automation and control systems. They are used in programmable logic controllers (PLCs), sensor and actuator control units, monitoring systems, etc.

Military and aerospace equipment: High reliability and anti-interference are important requirements for military and aerospace equipment, and PCBs play a key role in these fields. The spacecraft’s navigation system, flight control system, wireless communication equipment, etc. all use high-performance PCBs to ensure the reliability and performance of the system.

LED lighting: PCBs are often used as circuit boards for LED lighting. They support and drive LED chips, implement lighting functions, and provide power and protection circuits.

These are just some of the common application fields of PCBs. In fact, PCBs are widely used in the electronic field, and they can be found in almost all electronic devices that require circuit connections.

Difference between FPC vs PCB

Different materials: FPCs are made of flexible film materials, while PCBs are made of rigid glass fiber-reinforced materials.

Different bending ability: The FPC boards can be bent within a certain range, while the PCB boards are rigid and cannot be bent.

Different manufacturing processes: The manufacturing process of FPC is relatively simple and usually only requires one chemical etching to complete, while the manufacturing process of PCB is more complex and requires multiple chemical etching, gold plating, drilling, copper plating and other processes.

Different applications: FPCs are suitable for electronic products that need to be bent, while PCBs are suitable for various electronic products that require high stability and high performance.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, FPC boards and PCB boards have their own advantages and disadvantages, and the appropriate circuit board type should be selected according to different application scenarios. When designing a circuit, factors such as circuit performance requirements, manufacturing costs, and production cycles need to be taken into consideration, and the most suitable circuit board type should be selected after comprehensive consideration.

FAQ

FPC is a kind of flexible circuit board, which is composed of multi-layer film materials, that can be bent and folded, and is suitable for electronic products that need to be bent. FPC boards generally use metal foil as the conductive layer and are manufactured by chemical etching or laser cutting.

PCB is a rigid PCB consisting of one or more conductive and insulating layers, usually made of fiberglass-reinforced materials. PCBs are suitable for electronic products that require high stability and performance. The manufacturing process of PCBs is relatively complex and usually requires multiple processes such as chemical etching, gold plating, drilling, and copper plating.

  • Different materials
  • Different bending ability
  • Different manufacturing processes
  • Different applications

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